Stunning Stag is the 122-pound high weight in the Eclipse Stakes.

Stunning Stag is the 122-pound high weight in the Eclipse Stakes.

Michael Burns

Stunning Stag, Exhi Clash in Eclipse Stakes

Recent grade III winners face defending champion Southdale on Polytrack at Woodbine.

Stunning Stag and Exhi , both grade III winners in their most recent efforts, head the field for the $150,000 Eclipse Stakes (Can-III) over Woodbine's Polytrack May 28.

Trained by Sid Attard for his wife, Janice, Stunning Stag is the 122-pound high weight in the field of six for the 1 1/16-mile event. The Ontario-bred 7-year-old Running Stag gelding is on a three-race win streak, including a sharp three-length victory in the seven-furlong Vigil Stakes (Can-III) in his first start of the year May 8.

The Eclipse is the eighth race on the Woodbine program and is set to go off at 4:36 p.m. EDT.

Stunning Stag ran second in last year's Eclipse, beaten by three-quarters of a length by Southdale, who returns to defend his title. Among Stunning Stag's victories since then are the Autumn Stakes (Can-II) last November and the Vigil. He handily defeated Southdale in both of those races.

Teamed once more with jockey Gerry Olguin, Stunning Stag brings an imposing 6-5-0 record in 13 starts at the Eclipse distance. Overall, the consistent dark bay has finished in the money in 21 of 27 starts with 10 wins and leads the field in earnings with $824,053.

Front-running Exhi can nearly match Stunning Stag in earnings with $808,098 while winning six of 14 races. Wertheimer and Frere's homebred 4-year-old son of Maria's Mon is coming off a gate-to-wire victory in Keeneland's Ben Ali Stakes (gr. III) by 1 3/4 lengths April 23.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Exhi is no stranger to Woodbine's Polytrack, romping home in both the Marine and Victoria Park stakes last spring. Javier Castellano retains the mount on Exhi, who carries 120 pounds.

Roderick Ferguson's Southdale tired badly in the Vigil, his first start since last fall's Autumn Stakes, finishing last of five and more than 24 lengths behind Stunning Stag. In addition to the Eclipse victory, the 5-year-old son of Street Cry won the Durham Cup (Can-III) and was placed in two other graded races last year for trainer Ian Black. Emma-Jayne Wilson is back to ride Southdale, who switches to blinkers and also carries 120 pounds.

Black also entered Fifty Proof, an optional claiming allowance winner at seven furlongs in his seasonal debut April 22 at Woodbine. The 5-year-old Whiskey Wisdom gelding was making his first start since finishing last in the Japan Cup (Jpn-I) last November.

Don Cavallo is two-for-two on Woodbine's Polytrack for Stronach Stables and Roger Attfield. The 4-year-old El Prado colt was second to Baryshnikov in a strong allowance heat on the turf at Keeneland in his last start April 17.

$150,000 Eclipse Stakes (Can-III, Race 8, 4:36 p.m.), 4 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (Polytrack)
PP. Horse, Weight, Trainer
1. So Elite (KY), P Husbands, 118, M E Casse
2. Stunning Stag (ON), G Olguin, 122, S C Attard
3. Exhi (KY), J Castellano, 120, T A Pletcher
4. Southdale (ON), E Wilson, 120, I Black
5. Fifty Proof (ON), J Stein, 116, I Black
6. Don Cavallo (KY), L Contreras, 116, R L Attfield
Blinkers On: Southdale